SEASON& SERIES NOTES; CONNECTIONS
The Lakers took last season's series from New Orleans 2-1 after winning the 2008-09 series 3-1. The Lakers are 7-3 in their last 10 games against the Hornets including a 3-1 mark in their last four meetings. The Lakers are also 7-3 in their last 10 homes games against the Hornets and are 12-4 all-time against the Hornets at STAPLES Center. Since the Hornets move to New Orleans from Charlotte prior to the 2002-03 season, the Lakers have gone 7-3 at New Orleans Arena while going 0-2 at Ford Center in Oklahoma City during their temporary relocation from 2005-07. Under head coach Phil Jackson, the Lakers are 19-9 against the Hornets. In 2006, the Lakers and Hornets took part in the city of New Orleans first professional sports game following Hurricane Katrina when they met at the New Orleans Arena March 8, 2006. The Lakers won that contest 113-107 behind 40 points from Kobe Bryant. In 2006-07, Bryant scored a series record 50 points 3/23/07, becoming just the second player in NBA history to score 50+ points in four consecutive games. In their first meeting of the 2007-08 season (11/6/07), Peja Stojakovic made a Lakers opponent record 10 three-point field goals while Chris Paul became only the 7th Lakers opponent to record at least 21 assists in a game and the first since John Stockton did so in April of 1990. In a January 6, 2009 loss to New Orleans, David West scored a series-high 40 points for the Hornets, surpassing Baron Davis' old mark of 37 established when the team was in Charlotte back in 2002. Lakers assistant coach Jim Cleamons spent the 2004-05 and 2005- 06 seasons as an assistant coach in New Orleans. Hornets forward Trevor Ariza played 106 regular season games with Los Angeles from 2007-09, averaging 8.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.54 steals during his Lakers career while helping the team to the 2009 NBA Championship. Additionally, Hornets center DJ Mbenga played three seasons with the Lakers from 2007-10, averaged 2.3 points and 1.6 rebounds and was a member of two championship Lakers teams (2009, 2010).
CONSECUTIVE DOUBLE-FIGURE DEFEATS
With their loss December 28th at San Antonio, the Lakers saw their five game road win streak come to an end while extending a different rather dubious streak. In falling to the Spurs 82-97, the Lakers have now lost three consecutive games by double-figures for the first time since March of 2007 when they lost five consecutive games by 10 or more points (3/6/07 – 3/15/07, 4 road losses, 1 home).
RARE HOME STRUGGLES
On Christmas Day, the Lakers lost by 16 points to the Heat. In their previous game on December 21st, they lost by 19 points to the Bucks. With both losses coming at home, it is only the third time in franchise history that the Lakers have lost back-to-back home games by at least 16 points. The team was in Minneapolis the previous two times this happened, once in January 1959 and once in November/December 1959. In both cases, the Lakers played at least one road game in between the losses.*
Wednesday's game at New Orleans is the second of a back-to-back set with the Spurs and Hornets. This season, the Lakers are 4-2 in the first game and 4-1 in the second of back-to-backs. On the year, the Lakers will play 15 sets of back-to-back games as opposed to the 20 they faced a season ago. The only other time the Lakers have played 15 or fewer sets of back-to-backs came in the team's first ever NBA season (1948-49) when they also played 15 sets of back-to-backs. Chicago, Milwaukee and Atlanta lead the league with 23 back-to-backs each in 2010-11 while Oklahoma City (17), Phoenix (16) and the Lakers (15) will play the fewest sets this season.
KOBE BRYANT LEADS ALL PLAYERS AFTER 1st ROUND OF ALL-STAR BALLOTING
On December 16th, the NBA announced its FIRST returns of 2011 NBA All-Star balloting with Kobe Bryant (722,682) LEADING all players in All-Star voting, ahead of Orlando's Dwight Howard (611,561) and Miami's LeBron James (607,994). Pau Gasol (390,808), who made his third All-Star team last season as a reserve, ranks 2nd among forwards in the West behind Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant (470,881). Andrew Bynum (198,044) ranks 2nd among West centers behind Houston's Yao Ming (430,984), while New Orleans' Chris Paul (386,649) ranks 2nd among West guards behind Bryant. In the East, James and Boston's Kevin Garnett (456,111) lead the forward voting, Miami's Dwyane Wade (570,489) and Boston's Rajon Rondo (497,141) are the top two vote-getters at guard and Howard leads all East centers in balloting.
In each of the last three seasons, Bryant has led the Western Conference in all-star balloting. Last season, Bryant received 2,456,224 votes, finishing second overall to Cleveland's LeBron James (2,549,693). In 2008-09, he accumulated 2,805,397 votes, finishing third in overall balloting behind Dwight Howard (3,150,181) and James (2,940,823). In 2007-08, Bryant garnered 2,004,940 votes to finish fourth in overall voting behind Kevin Garnett (2,399,148), James (2,108,831) and Howard (2,066,991). In 2006-07, when he earned his second All-Star MVP, Bryant finished third overall in balloting behind James and Yao Ming. A three-time All-Star MVP (2002 Philadelphia, 2007 Las Vegas, 2009 Phoenix), Bryant is a 12-time All-Star and had started 11 consecutive All-Star games before missing last year's contest due to a sprained left ankle. Bryant, who was the youngest All-Star in NBA history in 1998, led all players in NBA All-Star balloting in 2003. Gasol has made three All-Star appearances (2006, 2009, 2010) and in 2009, became the 27th Laker in franchise history to be named to an All-Star team.
BRYANT NOW 3RD ON NBA FRANCHISE CAREER POINTS LIST
Last season, with his 29th point on February 1, 2010 at Memphis, Kobe Bryant surpassed Jerry West as the Lakers all-time leading scorer. In the history of the NBA, only two players have scored more points with a single franchise than Bryant (26,573): Karl Malone (1st/36,374) and Michael Jordan (2nd/29,277). This season, Bryant has moved past Hakeem Olajuwon (26,511) for 3rd on this list (12/19 at Toronto) and John Havlicek (26,395) for 4th (12/10 at Chicago).
BRYANT PASSES JOHN HAVLICEK FOR 11th ON NBA'S ALL-TIME SCORING LIST
With 23 points at Chicago (12/10/10), Kobe Bryant passed John Havlicek (26,395) for 11th on the NBA's all-time scoring list. Should he continue to score anywhere near his current pace (25.3 ppg), Bryant (26,573) would move to 6th on the all-time list by season's end. Next on the all-time list ahead of Bryant are Dominique Wilkins (10th/26,668), Oscar Robertson (9th/26,710), Hakeem Olajuwon (8th/26,946), Elvin Hayes (7th/27,313) and Moses Malone (6th/27,409).
Bryant has been steadily moving up the list over the past few years and last season alone, passed Alex English (25,613), Reggie Miller (25,279), Jerry West (25,192), Patrick Ewing (24,815) and Allen Iverson (24,368). In passing West with a slam dunk at the 4:14 mark of the third quarter February 1, 2010 at Memphis, finishing the game with 44 points (West's retired number), Bryant became the leading scorer in Lakers franchise history. In 2008-09, Bryant passed Hall-of-Famers Charles Barkley (23,757), Robert Parish (23,334), Adrian Dantley (23,177), Elgin Baylor (23,149), Clyde Drexler (22,195), Gary Payton (21,813) and Larry Bird (21,791).
NO REST, NO PROBLEM
In their second game of a back-to-back set with the Wizards and Pacers, Kobe Bryant scored 31 points in a 109-94 victory at Indiana. Bryant's average of 29.0 ppg in the second game of back-to-back sets is the highest in the NBA this season. The Lakers have played five sets of back-to-back sets on the year, with Bryant scoring 30 points 11/3 @ Sacramento, 33 points 11/17 @ Detroit, 27 points 12/1 @ Houston, 24 points 12/8 @ LA Clippers and 31 points 12/15 @ Indiana (all 2nd of back-to-back games).*
With their 109-94 victory in Indiana on December 15th, the Lakers recorded their FIFTH wire-to-wire win of the season. The Lakers other wire-to-wire victories came against the Warriors (10/31 vs. GS, 11/21 vs. GS), Grizzlies (11/2 vs. MEM) and Wizards (12/7 vs. WAS). Last year, the Lakers claimed NINE wire-to-wire victories (games in which they never trailed); seven during the regular season and two during the 2010 Playoffs (4/18 & 4/27 vs. Oklahoma City). During their previous championship run in 2008-09, the Lakers claimed 11 wire-to-wire victories; nine during the regular season and two during the 2009 Playoffs (4/29 vs. Utah & 5/17 vs. Houston). Last season, the Lakers also lost twice in wire-to-wire fashion (98-107 1/8/10 @ POR and 75-91 3/26/10 @ OKC).
Known for his clutch shooting, Derek Fisher delivered once again for the Lakers in their 87-86 victory over the Clippers on December 8th, this time in game-winning fashion with a running three-foot layup high off the glass as the buzzer sounded. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, since the stat began being tracked prior to the 2000-01 season, Fisher now has five game winning field goals, four in the regular season and one in the playoffs (FGM in last 10 seconds of the 4th quarter or overtime). Only two, however, have actually come with the Lakers; the other being his famous 0.4 second buzzer beater 5/13/04 at San Antonio (74-73 win). Fisher's other game winners came with Utah (2/10/07 vs. NY (104-102 win) and Golden State (3/25/05 vs. MIL (118-117 win), 12/28/05 vs. BOS (111-109 win)).
Last season, teammate Kobe Bryant connected on six game-winners; the most game winning field goals of any player in a single season over the last 10 years (Carmelo Anthony ranks second on this list with five game-winning field goals in 2005-06). Since the start of the 2000-01 season, Bryant has 20 field goals that have given his team the lead within the last 10 seconds of a fourth quarter or overtime, the most in the league over that span.
EMPHATIC END TO LOSING STREAK
The Lakers ended their first 4-game losing streak since April of '07 with a 113-80 victory over Sacramento (12/3/10). It's the second-largest margin of victory to end a losing streak of at least four games the Lakers have ever had. The Lakers ended a four-game losing streak by beating the Hawks by 46 points on January 9, 2004 (113-67).*
Entering the Lakers game at New Orleans, Derek Fisher has played in 444 consecutive regular season games dating back to April 15, 2005, the longest consecutive games streak among all active NBA players. Fisher moved into the top position after Portland's Andre Miller (632) missed the Blazers game against Phoenix (12/7/10) due to NBA suspension. Additionally, Fisher has started 322 consecutive regular season games dating back to January 15, 2007, tops among all active players by more than a season's worth of games (2nd – Luis Scola). Former Laker A.C. Green holds the NBA record for most consecutive games played with 1,192 dating from 11/19/86 – 4/18/01 while a member of the Lakers, Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat.